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Insights Weekly: The Machine and the Fresh Prince of Chavez Ravine Reach Rare Territory

By: Andy Cooper

While one of MLB’s most prolific veterans added to his impressive resume this week, one of the game’s most exciting rookies continued a remarkable start to his career.

We also held witness to the ending of one of the most impressive months by any team in a long time, as well as an incredible insight about what happened after the Orioles ran out of pitchers.

All of this and more was researched and presented using Stats Perform’s one-of-a-kind Insights, which provide in-depth storylines for the world’s largest sporting events. STATS Insights are backed by nearly 40 years of granular data collection and powered by industry-leading advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning.

As fall approaches, Stats Perform will continue to supply in-depth coverage of the NFL, NHL, NBA and college football and basketball through STATS Insights.

Now, we’re looking back on some of the most captivating and intriguing storylines from the past week and provide a little more context to the events that took place. Here are this week’s top Insights brought to you by Stats Perform:

In May of 2012, Davis took the mound in the 16th inning against the Red Sox. He came out firing, striking out Jarrod Saltalamacchia on three straight pitches. His win was in jeopardy when Mike Aviles hit a double to left-center, but Baltimore nailed Marlon Byrd at the plate. The Orioles then scored three runs in the top of the 17th, and Davis came back out for the bottom half, striking out Adrian Gonzalez before inducing a game-ending double play.

Davis’ only other pitching appearance was April 20 of this season when he entered in the top of the ninth with Baltimore trailing the Minnesota Twins 15-7. He allowed a home run but also added another strikeout to his career total.

Three NL position players have earned a win since 1969: John Baker (2014), Brent Mayne (2000) and Wilson Valdez (2011). Wilkerson is the only position player in MLB to earn a save since 1969.

The Machine is still making noise in his 19thseason, reaching a historic mark with home run No. 650 on July 28. Pujols is now only 10 homers shy of catching Willie Mays and taking over the fifth spot on the all-time list. Even if he doesn’t accomplish this feat over the Angels’ remaining games, Pujols has shown no inclination of retiring after this season.

The aging slugger also ranks fourth on the all-time RBI list, just 41 shy of third-place holder Alex Rodriguez.

Pujols has had a slight rebound after posting subpar seasons the past two years. In 2017, Pujols had a career-low slash line of .241/.286/.386, which contributed to a career-worst -1.2 Wins Above Replacement (WAR).

While his average and OBP have not climbed much since then, Pujols is hitting a home run every 19.41 at-bats this season – his best AB/HR ratio since 2016.

The Fresh Prince of Chavez Ravine struck again last Wednesday against the Padres, launching a towering grand slam to center field in the sixth inning to put his team up 5-2. Smith has gotten off to a historic start in his rookie season, putting up a slash line of .349/.396/.884 for an OPS of 1.280 over his first 14 games.

For reference, Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees finished with a rookie-record .627 slugging percentage and ended up with an OPS of 1.049 in 2017.

Austin Riley of the Braves put up equally – if not more – impressive numbers in his first 14 games this season. The 21-year-old left fielder hit one more homer (7) than Smith and had a slash line of .375/.407/.786, rivaling Smith with a 1.192 OPS. Though he’s cooled off since that performance, Riley is still putting up solid numbers with 17 home runs and a .798 OPS over 66 games.

The surprising Giants went 19-6 in July to join the hunt for an NL Wild Card spot. They also went an impressive 12-3 away from home, the second-best road record during that stretch behind only the surging Cleveland Indians’ 10-2 mark.

San Francisco’s revitalized offense played a key role, as the club hit .268 while averaging 5.8 runs in July after batting just .226 with 3.9 runs per game over its first 83 games. Alex Dickerson, acquired from the San Diego Padres on June 10, hit .393 with four home runs and 11 RBIs during the month, while Donovan Solano batted .373 over 67 at-bats and Mike Yastrzemski hit .316 with four homers and 16 RBIs.

The Giants entered the week 2.5 games behind in the wild-card chase, a position no one would’ve predicted when they were 12 under .500 and 8.5 back of a spot on June 29.

We will be back next week with more of the top storylines from STATS Insights.